I raised my eyebrows but thanked her for what she could offer me. I asked her a few ancillary questions and found out she was about a year ahead of me in high school. Candace apparently met her through an online community for the converted to share stories and self-help. She noted, "There are actually a few like me on there and they're really awesome." She gave me the site (along with her number if I needed to talk more after things settled down) and we went back to the main part of the store.
I lingered by her and glanced over some racks of decidedly-feminine clothes. I tried to imagine myself deciding to wear stuff like that with a body similar to Parker's. I glanced back towards her. An older, normal lady with a lined grimace looked at her. She had a gray coat draped over her arms. Parker gave a quick smile and asked her the same thing she'd asked me at first.
The lady looked Parker over and asked, "Can you find someone else to help me?"
Parker lowered her hands and smiled politely. "I can easily help you with anything you need."
"I'd prefer if it wasn't you."
One of those. Parker looked back at her calmly and announced, "If that's what you wish. I can direct you to my manager." I had an inkling what was about to happen.
I kept a covert position nearby, curious. The manager was a majestic-looking converted lady and clad in an aqua version of Parker's outfit. Her hair was like amber fire with ebbs and flows of color, though shorter than Parker's. She brushed it back like stoking embers into flame. Her eyes were piercing lavender, which seemed to set a glow across the rest of her face.
She came over, folded her hands in front of her, and asked the customer, "May I help you?"
The lady flashed her teeth before she clenched down on them.
"I want a normal person."
She spoke the words loudly enough for me to hear clearly. The manager watched the customer and recited store policy, linking it with converted rights as upheld by Congress. Animated people are still the same as everyone else, no matter their colors.
The lady waved her hand and scoffed with threats of writing all sorts of letters to the store's corporate offices. The manager sent her off with a smile. Once she'd stormed off, the manager rolled her eyes hard and sighed before saying a little something to Parker. I felt a finger poke me in the back of my shoulder.
"We should be square now."
Candace, obviously. I wasn't sure how my snooping on a customer making a scene and her snooping on me and Parker compared but I let it slide. She asked all the obvious questions but I glared and told her that was between me and Parker. Then she reached to examine my arm. I'd almost managed to forget about it. It had passed the shoulder but stopped its field of influence at the top of my shoulder.
I had a moment of hope before Candace pointed out my other arm looked different. She was right. It wasn't as overt as the changed arm but it was there. Simpler colors. A smaller form. Hairless. A different change method from anyone else in my family.
While the 'spreading consumption' was the typical means of conversion, there were different varieties seen in studies. The most common alternate still began at the hand but then flowed from that point to the rest of the body, like diffusing a dye in a liquid. Bit by bit less the person you were. Most considered it preferable to the usual way which left a mishmash of half-animated bodies for a few hours. Mine seemed a bit of both so far, concentrating in my arms. Would it pick other parts of my body next?
I considered phoning home. Unusual conversions typically called for the advice of a doctor, mostly due to the possibility someone might wind up with their head in a different place. Not that doctors had any way to actually do anything about it. So far, all my parts were still coming out in the right places. Just more girly than I was hoping for.
I watched my arm. It would probably go faster but still be like watching a slow, constant drip from a faucet fill up a cup. Allison wandered over with a confused look and some clothes in her arms.
Candace brought her over to look at me. They both determined what I already knew. It was just my other arm changing. With a sigh, Candace remarked, "Well, that makes things more challenging. Okay. We'll have to work bit by bit. You're gonna try on gloves so we can find out your size."
I would've protested but Candace had that decisive look. And I was a bit curious about what my size was now. It didn't get too cold around here (especially this time of year) but I usually wore a men's large when we went up to the mountains on skiing trips.
I got dragged over to women's gloves. Candace sifted through them till she found a hot pink pair and dangled them in front of me. All I needed to say was, "No."
She flashed out a curl of her bubble-gum-pink tongue and went back to looking. Standing beside me a bit, Allison asked how it went with Parker. I noticed Candace brushed back her hair to reveal her shaded ear towards me. I repeated what I told Candace about what help Parker could provide but I reflected, "There's really no way to prepare for something like this when it's happening. I just feel like I'm burning time till it's done so I can deal with it all together. Whatever happens to me."
Candace gave a deep frown I could just catch from the side. I added, "However, I was really glad I had the chance to talk to her and I'd like to keep in contact with her." I watched Candace's expression twist up into an obvious smirk. It was easy to draw the conclusion Candace was aware of many things about Parker. Somehow.
I dipped into the gloves to shift the discussion. I came out with a soft, purple pair which was too fuzzy for me but should probably give me an idea of what size would fit best. I slipped one on. Too loose on the converted hand. Too snug on the still converting hand.
Candace passed me some quite long, peach-toned fingerless gloves. There was a bit of lace trim and suggestively-girly print. I sighed and slipped one on. I conceded they were a great fit on the converted hand but groaned at the size tag on the side. A woman's extra small. Foreboding. Candace smirked but quickly failed to hide her smirk with a cough and a serious look.
I didn't really want to try on anything after that, despite several mittens and even a few leather glovelettes Candace heaved in my direction. Allison directed her attention by taking a sudden interest in the gloves. I could see Parker's head on the other side of the store.
I stared down at my hands then tucked them behind my head so I didn't have to look at them for a bit. I traced an eye over the gloves. Some of them weren't that bad. I actually liked one in particular with a blue tartan pattern. But I just looked.
I'd always been the cautious one. I remembered the old pool at the park down the block. I started lessons at an early age because mom read something about water being soothing to children. Not for me. I clung to the rim. So what if everyone else teased me? The wall was good. I also didn't mind the low end, where you could duck down and run slowly in the water. That water was fine. That water wasn't evil. It was when there was too much and I couldn't touch bottom that I ran from it.
Then, there was Candace. Her first swim day was soon after every instructor had stopped bothering with me and I'd rejected even water wings. She vaulted her little body into the water, hair spinning. I thought for a moment she'd crack her head open like mom had always warned me. But she danced in the water. She dove and rose and blasted plumes all over everyone.
Of course, she quickly got bored with lessons and soon took to messing with the instructors by bobbing like a corpse. I resisted the chuckles and looks as everyone pointed out my sister and compared us. She was Candace and I was me.
Her nature especially came across in her conversion. She started reading all the conversion rights legal stuff I'd gathered out of curiosity. She attended the nearest animated pride celebration, which was something between a fair and a parade where converted people and their families came and showed themselves off. At the time, they even broadcasted some of the big ones on the news. She also knew how she was going to become an actress in one of those up-and-coming "live-acted" animated programs on TV.
But that's my sister.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.